They play no defense. They’re too old. They only have one good player. They’ll never make it past the Los Angeles Lakers. They’re going to play rusty with so much time off. Oklahoma is too fast for them. Say what you want, but the Dallas Mavericks are playing for the 2011 NBA Championship. The energy and style of play that this team has displayed throughout these playoffs is the epitome of the NBA promo, “The NBA, where amazing happens.”
There’s no doubt in my mind that no player deserves more credit on this team for Mavericks success than Dirk Nowitzki. It has been a privilege to witness his performances in these playoffs. Is there a defender that can actually prevent this 7-footer from doing what he wants? Dirk isn’t unstoppable, but sure is playing like he is. The trajectory of his shot is beautiful. His humbleness and unselfishness aura is even more striking to watch. Nowitzki is a man on a mission and is four games away from accomplishing his goal. Failures only make an individual stronger and this is not the same Nowitzki nor is it the same Dallas Mavericks team from 2006 that lost to the Miami Heat in the NBA Championship.
Dirk isn’t the only member of this team that has improved his game, so has veteran Jason Kidd. Despite his age, Kidd still fills up the box score in several categories. This is the same Jason Kidd that got abused in 2008 first round playoffs against the New Orleans Hornets. I’m not sure if any of you remember this series, but to sum up in one word what Chris Paul did to one the greatest point guards ever, disrespectful. It was like Paul was playing the XBOX video game, NBA 2k, on Hall of Fame while Kidd was playing on Rookie. I actually vividly remember Paul saying during the series, “He [Kidd] can’t D me!”
Kidd may have seemed too old and not deserving to be on the court in ‘08, but like fine wine, Kidd gets better with age. J.Kidd’s contribution to the team is more than just being the point guard and directing traffic. Kidd has been a mentor to many of these players and using his years of experience to play a different way that is still contributive. Maybe not as essential as the German slinger, but this future Hall of Famer will be needed to win a championship.
Same teams, but different faces. The 2011 Championship may be a rematch of 2006, but it will be a completely different series. Nowitzki doesn’t need to dominate every game for his team to win. If you disagree, just ask the Oklahoma City Thunder. Though the Mavericks only took five games to defeat the swift and electric Thunder, it wasn’t the easiest series for Dallas. Unfortunately for the Mavs, next round will consist of an even faster and more explosive team.
Though there may be an advantage for the Dallas on whoever defends Dirk, there will be several other advantages in favor of the Miami Heat like who will attempt to stop the dynamic backcourt of Lebron James and Dwyane Wade. Because Dirk is such a greater shooter and will attract double teams, the easiest way the Mavericks can make the Heat suffer is outside shooting. This is the Dallas’ forte; the only question is if and when they’ll fall down on the big stage. In addition to the deadly perimeter shooting that the Mavs possess, they also have a very deep and talented bench. Jason Terry, JJ Barea, Peja Stojakovic, Corey Brewer, and Brendan Haywood will need to step up when their numbers are called. This is one area where the Mavericks truly outnumber the Miami.
The Mavericks have seen it all. Most members of this organization have been criticized in some aspect and still they stand. This makes the Mavericks even more dangerous. Dirk and his team aren’t going home without a fight. Their resilience has led them to reach the center plateau of bright lights against the Miami Heat. Their redemption path started with an early exit in the first round to the No. 8 Golden State Warriors to being bounced out the playoffs by the lower seeded San Antonio last year. Time has passed and the Mavericks now have a chance to win their 1st NBA title in the franchise’s second trip to the finals.
Brandon Roy is gone. They defeated Kobe Bryant and the defending champions. They eliminated Kevin Durant and the young Thunder. Next up is the three headed monster. Tune in to ABC next Tuesday at 9 p.m. to watch the rematch of the 2006 NBA Finals.